The Prime Ministers new plan to power every household with offshore wind power in the UK by 2030 would require an astonishing £50 billion worth of investment and a new turbine being installed once every week for the rest of this decade.
The massive investment would improve the current offshore wind power output of the United Kingdom four times over making the total wind capacity reach 40 gigawatts by the turn of the decade. The magnitude of the investment was calculated by an Oxford based consultancy firm, Aurora Energy Research.
The wind energy industry of Great Britain is one of the biggest industrial success stories of recent years. In the last decade the total capacity of the offshore turbines in the UK has increased from 1 gigawatt to nearly 10 gigawatts by the start of 2020. Alongside this, the cost of building offshore wind turbines have decreased by nearly 66 per cent.
Boris Johnson announced the new plan as a part of the United Kingdom’s goal to ‘build back better’ after the global pandemic caused by the coronavirus. However, there are still many hurdles to be cleared by the government to show that the promise of a cleaner future with more green jobs and billions of pounds of investment will take place.
The chief executive of Scottish Power, Keith Anderson, has stated that the issues is not to do with a shortage in investment or capital to go into the projects but it’s the speed at which the government allow the projects to take place. Especially by granting new project contracts and seabed licences at speeds never before seen.
Investment for the projects is planned to come through the private sector with a large project contract auction in spring time of next year. The auction will also support new onshore wind turbine projects and solar projects for the first time since 2017. RenewableUK predict that this upcoming auction could create around 12,000 new jobs (mainly within the construction sector) and bring in over £20 billion of new investment.
Anderson believes that the offshore wind industry will confidently meet the required target. He only holds reservations that people may see the 40 gigawatt figure as a target to reach and that the industry should strive to go above and beyond to exceed it.
The UK government is currently under pressure to prove that it is taking its net-zero promise seriously. More so as it is a host country of the UN climate talks Cops26. However the talks have currently been postponed until next year because of the coronavirus.
The only noticeable green measures that have been bought in so far by the Chancellor is a new £3 billion scheme for insulating homes. This, along with the new investments into offshore wind power still means a lot more needs to be done for the UK to reach its net zero target.
Critics believe that further commitments need to be made in other areas such as reducing our emissions from transport, buildings, land and industry.
Doubts have also been raised over the promise of the creation of new jobs in the UK. The government has promised that over 60 per cent of the offshore wind farms will be made in the UK however previous years have shown that green job promises from the prime minister do not necessarily materialise.